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India would need $291 bn to plug water demand-supply gap by 2030

New Delhi : Even as large parts of India get lashed by monsoon rains, bringing cheers from thirsty people and desperate farmers, a new study has said the widening gap between demand for water and its supply in the country was estimated to reach a staggering 50 per cent by 2030.

To plug this huge demand-supply gap in 2030, an additional investment of $291 billion would be needed. This translates roughly into

Rs 18,91,000 crore as per current exchange rates. To understand how large the amount needed only to ensure adequate water supply is, one needs to just look at the size of the Union Budget 2016-17: Rs 20,00,000 crore.

“Amid sources that can be used to bridge water demand-supply gap, augmented and sustainable surface water sources would require funds to the tune of $215 billion followed by groundwater ($45 billion),” noted a recent Assocham-PwC joint study titled ‘Water Management in India: Channelling the resources.’

While employing technologies like wastewater treatment and reuse together with desalination would require funding of $27 billion and $4 billion, an additional $25 billion would be needed as part of capital and O&M requirements for each market in four types of Indian cities – IA, IB, IC; class II, class III and class IV, the study noted.

“Considering that the share of rural population to the total Indian population is 40 per cent, funding requirement of $25 billion will increase by 40 per cent to reach $35 billion by 2030 if the funding gap for the rural sector is also taken into consideration,” the stuty noted.

It is imperative to note that there is immense pressure on India’s natural resources as with 16 per cent of the world’s total population, its economic activities, ambitions and needs are dependent on 2.5 per cent of the world’s land and four per cent of the total usable water resources.

Through some of its flagship schemes including AMRUT, the Union Government is trying to ensure that by Mission-end, there is 100 per cent water supply connectivity and at least 135 lpcd water is available.

According to the Assocham-PwC study, creating a robust water infrastructure through efforts and funding in capital and O&M (operation and maintenance) expenditures is therefore need of the hour to plug demand-supply gap of 754 BCM (billion cubic metres) in India’s water sector by 2030.

In view of the factors that impact the sources of and demand for water, the study said that agricultural water demand-supply is projected to be about 510 BCM in 2030, or 69 per cent of the total demand supply gap.

“The projected 69 per cent is an optimistic number and is dependent on improvements in irrigation efficiency. However, if efficiency does not improve, the gap in the irrigation sector alone would be about 80 per cent of 754 BCM, or about 570 BCM in 2030,” the study said.

Highlighting the extent of water use efficiency in the industrial sector, it said that industries would need to withdraw about three times more water (about 57 BCM) than they would actually consume (about 18 BCM) in 2030.

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